I'm Such a Moron - Self-Deprecating Humor Basics
You gotta love the opening scene of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.
The former presidential candidate takes the stage, PowerPoint clicker in-hand. His famous Global Warming Slideshow appears on the enormous screen in the shadows. Thousands of bright-eyed college students anxiously await his opening remarks.
The applause fades. The crowd falls silent.
And the earliest words out of Al Gore's mouth are, "Hello, i am Al Gore, and I once were the next president of the us."
The students roar with laughter! Cheers, whistles and applause echo on the auditorium for the next 20 seconds. Even Gore chuckles somewhat to himself on stage.
At that moment, you realize something: Al Gore has every one of those students in the users hand of his hand. Instantly, he's become likeable, funny, and, the truth is, sort of cool.
BEHOLD! The amazing power of self-deprecating humor:
It neutralizes conflict.
It makes other strive to be around you.
It is the fastest technique to someone's heart.
It is really a key indicator of emotional intelligence.
It defuses a normally tense or difficult situation.
It combines modesty and likeability, yet still time demonstrating that confidence and self-assurance.
The word "deprecation" is a result of the Latin deprecari, which suggests, "to avert by prayer." Now, while you probably don't think of poking fun at yourself as praying, self-deprecating humor does help sidestep three communication barriers:
You avoid offending someone. Let's admit it: people have become Too sensitive. It's almost hard To never offend someone! Political cartoonist Paul Rigby said hello best: "Everyone is on edge. I think it really is a fault in the human species right now. We are all very afraid of critical analysis."
LESSON LEARNED: use self-deprecating humor to be a protective measure. It's safe, it's fun, and it works. After all, you're poking fun at yourself! It's doubtful that other people will be take offense.
You avoid threatening someone. Humans are inclined to gravitate toward people and situations which can be the least threatening and uncertain. This is called the approach/avoid mechanism. Therefore, self-deprecating humor causes you to more approachable, both personally and professionally.
PERFECT EXAMPLE: while in the April 1997 issue of Men's Health, psychologist Michael Cunningham reported, "Self-effacing humor isn't threatening as it points out that a someone is confident enough to risk looking silly."
You avoid alienating someone. Even those with great power and responsibility use self-deprecating humor thus to their advantage. Landon Parvin, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, helped George W. Bush write the jokes contrasting Bush's public voice in reference to his supposed inner thoughts.
AMAZINGLY: Parvin, who was responsible for most of the president's intentional humor, believed this plan helped win over skeptical voters by increasing Bush's likeability. Furthermore, CNN and MSNBC reports on the 2004 election established that Bush's approachability surpassed that of John Kerry's.
Still, self-deprecating humor isn't all fun and games. It has got the potential to be disadvantageous. After spending a few Googleable hours researching this issue, I've discovered three caveats you must consider before ripping yourself a new one:
1. Gender. Although it in all probability differs from person to person, two items of research caught my attention within this topic. The first emanates from Jan Frankel Schau of the Los angeles Mediation Association. She wrote, "A woman appears to be lacking in confidence when she partcipates in self-deprecating humor. This is not to censor her make use of humor, but only to enlighten it by stating the hidden messages which might be revealed, or which can be unintentionally displayed."
On the other hand, attraction expert and dating coach "Swinggcat," founding father of Real World Seduction, says, "A little self deprecating humor can be powerful; but a man who recites an hour-long standup comedy routine by what a loser his can be will make women avoid him like a leper."
According to Swinggcat, self-deprecating humor violates significant attraction maxim: women are attracted to men with "prizability." If you wish to successfully attract women, he says, you need to establish the frame you are the "prize" in the interaction.
LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Consider your gender (and therefore of the people surrounding you) before overdoing the self-deprecation.
2. Intention. Have you ever suspected someone of employing self-deprecating humor for sole purpose of getting other people to protect him? According to fascinating report titled The Self-Deprecating Narcissist by Dr. Sam Vaknin, "If a narcissist partcipates in self-deprecating humor, he expects to get contradicted, rebuked and rebuffed by his listeners ('Come on, you might be actually quite handsome!'), as well as to be commended or admired for his courage and his wit and intellectual acerbity ('I envy you skill to laugh at yourself!')."
Vaknin concluded with, "As everything in a narcissist's life, his love of life is deployed while in the interminable pursuit of Narcissistic Supply."
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Don't poke fun at yourself simply so somebody else defends the opposite. This looks manipulative and narcissistic.
3. Frequency. Lastly, offering lots of self-deprecating remarks may raise queries about your self-esteem. Famous comedy writer and magician Robert Orben says, "Self-deprecating humor ought to be two-pronged. It should comically acknowledge a criticism or situation, but infer that there is no substance going without running shoes and that you're in the driver's seat."
Additionally, saturating yourself with self-deprecating remarks can certainly produce a negative, circular pattern. See, humans are what they're because of the way other people discover their whereabouts. So, if you keep telling folks that you're a moron, then individuals will start to agree with you. After a long time, you might start wondering to yourself, "Huh. Maybe I must say i AM a moron!"
LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Words are powerful. Make without doubt everyone (including yourself) sees that it's only a joke.
Woody Allen, our planet's most notorious self-deprecator, once said, "Self deprecating humor is all around. It's a staple of comedians, and ought to be a staple of people in general."
Right on, Woody. Besides, if you can't laugh at yourself, who are able to you laugh at?
Ultimately, self-deprecating humor is really a potent ingredient to improve your personal and professional communication. With more experience, you'll learn that after the right amount is applied, and done so within the appropriate context, you can be sure to maximize your approachability - one conversation at a time.
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Besides, when it is good enough for Al Gore, it is always good enough for you too.